I’ve been thinking over the importance of preparation after completing the Evansville Half Marathon this past weekend. I’m very much a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants person. I had all my kids that way. I tend to blog that way. I tend to make a lot of decisions that way. And most of the time, I don’t regret this approach to life. It’s one that embraces chaos, leans in to spontaneity, and lives a lot in the actual moment.
On the other hand, my recent experience with running this race has shown me another side, another approach to doing things, and that is one rooted in preparation, practice, and box-checking.
I asked for accountability when I decided to do this race from a friend who lives right here in Newburgh. My friend immediately found us a training schedule and we populated our calendars with Saturday runs, moving from a 4-mile Saturday run 12 weeks ago to an 11-mile long run the weekend before our race. We kept these appointments with each other.
We shared our struggles not just with running, but also our present lives–the losses, the job changes, the ways God was moving in our moments. When race day came, I was more prepared than I had been for any other athletic event I’ve done.
These pics were taken around mile 5 on Main Street, and I was smiling, actually enjoying the race. Who enjoys running this much? I usually enjoy the moments of alone-time that running gives me, but to physically enjoy an entire 13 mile race? That is not normal for me. In fact, though I had trained well, I still had all the pre-race fears I normally do–one of which is the mid-race fear of feeling exhausted yet having so much left to go.
But mid-race, late-race, and end-race, nothing could have been further from the truth.
I ran the 13.1 miles in 2:05:05–fifteen minutes faster than I ran it last year and ten minutes faster than my goal for myself. And I ran it happily! I sprinted the last almost 5 miles, smiling big the whole way–I’m sure it looked silly!
Here I am running uphill, passing as many people as I can on the Greenway! Where are those people? I passed them!
Why am I sharing all of this? I think it’s important to recognize the ways we naturally tend to do things and to ask how to be better. Many of you would probably say that it’s a no-brainer to focus on preparation and make it a priority in life, especially as you plan for something big like a race or a move or a wedding. But you may already be a great planner. If you are, flip the situation. What is something you can learn from the superbly spontaneous? If you are a natural planner, what is something you can learn from those of us who live responsively in the moment?
But if you’re like me, and you live by the seat of your pants, would you consider joining in on an adventure soon that asks you to pin those pants down and make a plan? I guarantee there is something there to learn too!
You might just find yourself finishing that next big thing faster, better, and stronger than you ever thought possible!